Copper and nickel smelting with virtually zero gas emission - A vision for the future

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 92, No. 1031, 1999

N.A. Warner, School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom

irtually zero gas emission smelting is promoted as a means for securing environmental advantages and the general publicÕs acceptance. Concerns about climate change will increasingly make it more difficult for new primary metals projects to come to fruition unless greenhouse gas emissions are decreased. Assuming a sustainable market for sulphuric acid is not locally available, the next best option is high temperature reaction of strong SO2 with limestone or dolomite. This is followed by CO2 liquefaction and disposal either underground or in the deep ocean. The VoiseyÕs Bay nickel project is cited as an example where appropriate location of a new smelter close to large dolomite or limestone deposits would lead to a virtually zero gas emission operation. Most of the electrical energy required for producing technically pure oxygen and for liquefying CO2 and transporting it to disposal can be derived from smelting a bulk sulphide concentrate and then reacting SO2 at high temperature. Provided the smelter gases are properly cleaned before sulphur fixation, the sulphated stone should be uncontaminated
Keywords: Metallurgy, Smelting, Copper, Nickel, Gas emission.